MCAA on the future of EU research

The MCAA wants to make its voice heard regarding the next EU research framework programme — FP9!

The MCAA Policy Group and the Board have published a Statement listing their recommendations.

Fernanda Bajanca, Mattias Björnmalm and Sara Ricardo were behind this document and told us all about it.

Why a statement?

In response to the “Public consultation on EU funds” launched by the European Commission, the MCAA Policy Group and the Board published a Statement on the successor to Horizon 2020, which focuses on nine requests:

  1. Substantially increase the research budget to at least €120 billion;
  2. Widen the participation of all EU countries in the R&I framework programme;
  3. Improve career prospects for researchers;
  4. Implement Open Science;
  5. Facilitate long-term financial stability for mobile researchers;
  6. Expand support for the mental health and well-being of researchers;
  7. Improve the integration of social sciences and humanities;
  8. Promote the integration of displaced researchers in higher education institutions;
  9. Promote gender equality and diversity.

What to expect from FP9?

From left to right: MCAA Members Sara Ricardo, Mattias Björnmalm and Fernanda Bajanca

“At this point, nothing is sure yet,” says Fernanda.

“The budget available for the FP9 may influence the draft document to be submitted by the end of May”, she continues. “We are all aware of the budgetary challenges, especially taking into account the departure of the United Kingdom. However, taking the economic recovery registered in the last five years, effort should be put into reinforcing the strategic pillars of Europe.”

“The white paper on the future of Europe is very positive, despite the many challenges, and depicts five scenarios where research and innovation seem to be assumed as a strong pillar of Europe. So, my hopes are high for the future of European science and innovation,” she explains.

According to Sara, “My understanding is that FP9 will not introduce many structural changes, such as for instance the funding of the ‘excellent science’ pillar and the incorporation of Open Science in research. However, there is a clear intention in solidifying and further adjusting the measures already taken for H2020 to increase their effectiveness in creating real results for the European economy and society.”

Who was behind the statement?

The MCAA Policy Working Group worked on the statement.

“The interest was surprisingly high. The Policy WG doubled its membership in the few days after the GA and many great suggestions were received during the meeting and afterwards. We also recruited other working groups within the MCAA to participate, such as the Gender Equality and Diversity for Mobile Researchers in Science Working Group (GEMS) and the Bridging Science and Business Working Group (BSB). We then organised small teams to work on the different issues on the table,” Fernanda says enthusiastically.

The results of these exchanges were summed up in a document that was shared, and could be edited by members. Finally, the draft was submitted to the Board who provided feedback and suggestions.

“It was impressive teamwork that made it possible to put together such a complete document in such a short time,” adds Fernanda.

How were the nine issues selected?

The nine recommendations outlined in the statement were carefully put together and selected by the MCAA members a long time ago. Step by step, some members of the Policy Working Group have become specialised in fields like Open Science, displaced researchers, mental health and well-being, and identified them as crucial for research.

“We have a track record of actions developed towards raising awareness and promoting discussion around these issues, through webinars, articles, participation in conferences including the ESOF 2018, where more than half of the sessions we organise are directly related to the issues in our FP9 document. In addition, the surveys previously run by the MCAA gave plenty of hints on the issues that worry researchers, namely those relative to career progression and stability of a generation of mobile researchers,” explains Fernanda.

Passion also led to certain choices, explains Mattias: “In the end, we gathered all the issues that people were passionate about and provided our recommendations to the Board.”

Cutting the list down to nine was a tough task, however. “Each of the issues led to a lot of discussion and some great ideas did not make it into the final document (mostly as we had to be very selective to keep it concise and focused) so we have several follow-up policy papers planned to go into more detail on these areas,” explains Fernanda.

What’s next?

For Fernanda, the next step is ESOF 2018! The outcomes of this event will shape future MCAA policy papers.

If you care about the future of FP9, you can still have an influence on it! All three members encourage you to get in touch!

Further reading:

Statement on the Framework Programme 9 by the Marie Curie Alumni Association

Reflection paper on the future of EU finances

An agenda for a more united, stronger and more democratic Europe

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This post was written by Aurélia Chaise

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The Marie Curie Alumni Association Blog

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The Marie Curie Alumni Association Blog

A blog for scientific researchers edited by the Marie Curie Alumni Association

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